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A Quest For Unity Among Separate Identities

Kristy Plaza |
November 26, 2012 | 9:55 p.m. PST


Editor's Note: "A Quest For Unity Among Separate Identities" is part of Kristy Plaza's new series, Kristy's Corner.

As a Latina, I have immense pride in my ethic identity. As a woman, I have pride in my gender identity. As a heterosexual individual, I have pride in my work as an ally - a straight supporter of the LGBTQ community. And as part of the middle class, I have no choice other than to be a part of the 99 percent. Even though each of these falls into a different identity category, I chose to make all of them a part of my identity.

The categories: gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, class and nationality. These categories usually remain separate, only colliding when the necessity arises. There are many categories that make up one individual; the beauty of this is that each becomes a part of what defines you and makes you multi-dimensional.

I chose to live on the Latino Floor of my dorm at the University of Southern California because I wanted to be around a community of people that would understand my background easier than others might. I chose to be the vice president of the Freshman-Advocacy Board (FAB) because I wanted to be the model of tolerance that I preach. These two identities usually don’t collide with one another. And why would they? They don’t have much in common, other than the fact that they represent a minority class.

Yet it is precisely this similarity that links them, and one significant similarity is all it takes. Each category demands a certain amount of commitment that I choose to give: a time, effort, mental, physical and emotional commitment. I am incredibly proud of the work I do for each community that welcomes me, and of which I then become a part. If need be, I would scream out my pride in being a part the Latino, LGBTQ, woman and student communities.

Each community has separate agendas - a separate list of goals that each is trying to achieve. Usually, I share the same goals. However, I share these goals as an individual who is a part of multiple communities. My personal goals are not limited. Instead, I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to every community of which I am a part, simply because my passions guide me to them.

Yet, I have noticed that most communities don’t intersect. It seems that these separate communities want to remain just that: separate. I ask myself, why can’t these groups intermingle? Do they have such distinct goals that one group can’t support the other? For some communities, maybe. The Anime Club will not share the same goals or concerns as QuASA (Queer and Ally Student Assembly). However, this does not negate the fact that most communities should collide with one another, because they can benefit from each other. For instance, the communities of the Latino Floor and FAB, why can’t these two collide? Are their goals nothing alike? No, they are not. Both communities represent a minority that merely wants equal representation in society. The same can be said for other groups, such as the Latino Student Assembly and Chinese American Student Assembly.

There are many communities that represent different goals, yet they all include complex individuals who aren’t simply defined by one identity. It is time for every community to work together while retaining individuality, for the benefit of the communities' members. The more communities work with one another, the closer all communities and identities become. Misunderstandings among community members will disappear in light of a familiarity with one another. This idea may sound a bit utopic, but doesn’t it also appeal to the part of us that is tired of being excluded from other groups? After all, don’t we want to be rid of an “us vs. them,” and instead be a “we”?


Reach Columnist Kristy Plaza here.



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